Ambitious plans to regenerate Hemel Hempstead’s town centre are being aided by a Government announcement that it is to make £19.63m of discounted borrowing available to Dacorum Borough Council. Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership secured the reduced ‘project’ rate from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) to help revitalise the town centre’s economy by making it a more attractive place to shop, visit and do business.
Dacorum Borough Council is already in the middle of regenerating Hemel’s town centre under its Hemel Evolution programme. It is investing £30m of public funds in a top-to-toe redevelopment of its main high street, creating new homes, jobs and leisure opportunities and also supporting local businesses.
The discounted ‘project’ borrowing rate, set at 40 basis points or 0.4%, below the PWLB’s standard lending rate, will help advance Hemel Evolution projects including:
• New community service hub: Dacorum Borough Council is creating a new modern and efficient home together with the library, police, registrar and voluntary sector organisations. Plans also include 200 new homes, a retirement home and associated commercial and leisure uses such as a cinema, restaurants and small-scale retail.
• Bus interchange: Hemel Evolution is also improving town centre access by public transport and on foot. A new bus interchange is being created, bringing the buses closer to the main Marlowes shopping area. This also frees up Market Square for commercial redevelopment.
• Marlowes pedestrianised shopping area (see artist’s impression): Improvement works along the main shopping area are currently underway: installing children’s play areas, new seating areas, planting a line of trees, creating a performance area in a new central square.
• Jellicoe Water Gardens restoration: Dacorum is taking these historic urban gardens back to their former glory.
• Hemel Old Town: Work on area is already complete. Its historic character has been preserved in a modern, accessible and attractive setting for a new generation of visitors to enjoy.
The reduced ‘project’ rate secured by Hertfordshire LEP builds on its £5m commitment to develop a town centre campus for West Herts College secured as part of its £200m Growth Deal last year.
Andrew Percival, chair of Hertfordshire LEP's Infrastructure Board, said: “We are delighted that securing the PWLB project rate for Dacorum Borough Council will enable it to progress its plans to revitalise the town for visitors, residents and businesses and help to unlock Hemel’s future economic potential.”
Sally Marshall, Chief Executive at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “Regeneration has already become a reality, with our Hemel Evolution programme transforming the town centre. By making our own substantial investment, we’re giving local businesses, investment companies and property owners the confidence and reassurance they need to contribute themselves. And now thanks to Hertfordshire LEP’s support, we can stimulate growth in Dacorum at a lower cost. The reduced loan rate shows the Government’s commitment to our local economy.”
The discounted ‘project’ borrowing rate has been made available to LEPs by the Treasury to boost housing and infrastructure construction. The Government has asked each LEP to work with local authorities to agree which project should benefit from the cheaper borrowing support. This borrowing is available in 2014/15 and 2015/16, and is in addition to funding from the Local Growth Fund.
For more information on Dacorum Borough Council’s £30 million Hemel Evolution regeneration programme click here.